'Not right that children are homeless in this day and age': More and more families at Penny Dinners

Monthly figures released by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage show that in April of this year, the number of families in emergency accommodation in the South West increased by 14% in one month.
'Not right that children are homeless in this day and age': More and more families at Penny Dinners

Cork Penny Dinners co-ordinator Caitríona Twomey told The Echo the charity was increasingly seeing families presenting at the soup kitchen’s Little Hanover Street premises. Picture Dan Linehan

WITH the latest homelessness figures showing 73 families living in emergency accommodation in the Cork/Kerry region, a 62% increase on last year, the head of Cork’s oldest charity has said the Government needs to face up to its responsibilities.

Cork Penny Dinners co-ordinator Caitríona Twomey told The Echo the charity was increasingly seeing families presenting at the soup kitchen’s Little Hanover Street premises.

“Only today [Sunday] we had a family of four eating their dinner on the pavement outside, two little children sitting on a suitcase, with their parents telling them it was a picnic,” Ms Twomey said.

 “We brought them in and gave the kids ice-cream to try and cheer them up, but the family just cannot get rented accommodation and that’s a situation we are seeing every day of the week.

“That family has a place to stay tonight but they have to be gone early in the morning, and it’s just not right that children are homeless in this day and age.

"The Government needs to face up to its responsibilities and start looking after our most vulnerable citizens, because they are failing people miserably." 

Latest figures 

Monthly figures released by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage show that in April of this year, the number of families in emergency accommodation in the South West increased by 14% in one month — to 73 families.

That represents a year-on year increase of 62% since April 2021, when 45 families were in emergency accommodation in Cork and Kerry.

Nationally, the number of men, women, and children in emergency accommodation last month exceeded the 10,000 mark, rising to 10,049, representing a 24% increase in 12 months, and a 26% increase since May 2021, when the lowest homelessness figure (7,991 people) was recorded.

Homelessness had declined last year due to a combination of the moratorium on evictions, and increased allocations of accommodation to those in homelessness in response to the Covid crisis.

The figures for Cork show that in April of this year, some 464 adults were in emergency accommodation, a 17% increase on April of 2021, when 395 adults were in emergency accommodation in Cork.

In the South-West, with figures for Cork and Kerry combined, 690 men, women and children were in emergency accommodation in April 2022.

This figure is up 19% since April 2021, when 579 men, women and children were in emergency accommodation in this area.

Cork Simon 

A spokesperson for Cork Simon said the figures demonstrated that significant numbers of people are still stuck in homelessness.

And he said, the rise in the numbers of families in homelessness was of real concern to them.

Paul Sheehan of Cork Simon told The Echo that year-on-year, homelessness figures are up considerably, something he described as deeply worrying.

“The number of men, women and children homeless is up 19% since April 2021,” he said.

“I think ultimately what the figures are telling us is, there is still a homelessness crisis, and it’s far from going away.”

He welcomed what he called a slow, but steady decrease in figures since February of this year.

However, he cautioned that the decrease had only occurred over two months, and that it was still too soon to say whether this would be a trend, or short lived.

“If you just look at Cork alone, you’re talking about 464 adults, and while the numbers are falling, they’re falling very slowly,” Mr Sheehan said.

“Anybody who’s stuck in emergency accommodation now is really depending on the private rented sector for a way out, and it’s very difficult to see that happening in any significant numbers.”

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